The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #54172   Message #838223
Posted By: Penny S.
01-Dec-02 - 09:15 AM
Thread Name: BS: bullying advice
Subject: RE: BS: bullying advice
Firstly, the school is required to have a bullying policy. Ask for a copy, and look for anything it that has been omitted in this case. Write to the Head of Year, Head of Department, Head Teacher and then the Education Authority - but not all at once. In sequence, letting each one know that you will be doing so, and referring to the answers when you do. Refer to your journal of events in the letters.

You might try writing to arrange an interview with the offending teacher first - with both parents, so you are both witnesses, and no line manager, unless he requests it. If you do it with his manager, it will look more threatening to him. Offering the option of not having his superior there means that you could sort it out as equals. If he wants someone there, because the two of you represent a threat, such as another member of staff, or his union rep, agree to it. Make it clear to him, in the interview, that the prime purpose of the meeting is not discuss your son's behaviour or position, but any difficulties he has with you. Tell him that you do not believe it is appropriate for him to pressure your son if he has resentments about your concerns about the bullying, and that it is inappropriate for him to do so in front of the children. Say that you will always be available to discuss any problems (speak the way a teacher would, fobbing off a parent, calmly, smilingly, as if there are no problems). Refer to the bullying policy, which will definitely have references to Home/School partnership, and cooperation of parents and teachers, and point out that you were only expecting that he and you would be taking part in this process in dealing with the events. Show him that you understand that teachers, particularly in a subject such as his, where there are crucial health and safety issues, must find it hard to deal with children with disruptive behaviour, whether it is physical or the result of social manipulation through language and exclusion. Don't accuse him of being unprofessional at this stage. Body language that would be effective would be of someone who is choosing not to be angry in order to work together for the common good, offering the hand of - not friendship, exactly. Say that you haven't gone higher up this time because you feel that it's better to sort things out face to face like this.

Have prepared a document setting out what you hope to come from the meeting. Make notes of anything you agree about. This should include a statement on his part that he will not draw attention to your son in a negative way in front of other pupils. Let him have a copy of this, typed out, next day. (Keep a copy of everything).

If this fails, then go for the letters, above. The teacher is in the wrong.

I was at a school where the junior head enabled the bullying because the unstated ethos (the stated one was the developing of all the girls' talents to their full potential) was that sneaking was the most appalling social evil. I now understand two things about that - that most education systems drew inspiration from the Spartans rather than any society more acceptable to more liberal minds - and that she had to live in a rented room in the house of some parents of a school pupil, where other pupils, for whom she had some responsibility, were boarded. She had a horrible life.

I was exposed to verbal bullying from lads at a church youth club. There was no adult present one week, and I was the only girl, and when I complained of the behaviour the following week, in front of my mother and some people from the area youth department, I was told that the lads would not do that, and that to the pure, all things were pure. At least once after that, the minister described me to others, unknown to my family, unsolicited, and without my parents being consulted, as being someone who required care. It has taken me a very long time to realise that it was his absence from the club that he was attempting to smokescreen, and his relief that it was nothing worse that had happened. This is an analogy with your case. If your son's teacher allows the offending bully group to see that he is supporting them, then he may prevent them for spotting their weapon over him, which, even if he has already been spoken to about it, they could still use against him.

Another path to go down is to ask if there is a Technician/Learning Support Assistant available for that class, as there is for Science, so that the number of adults in the room is greater. That would support the teacher with a difficult class, and also make him inhibit his language.

Is there likely to be any problem with the parents of the other children? By saying what he has to your son, the teacher has also delivered the message that any complaints from theirs may lead to him humiliating them. Not a good tactic, but it might be understandable in some circumstances. Are there any other targets for this group? Can you get together with their parents? Can your son get together with others? The peer system can work - your son's buddy would be bigger than the bullies, and he would have friends. If he is someone that the school admires, the bullies would want him to see them as admirable too.

When is the next Ofsted? You are allowed to talk to inspectors about any concerns. You don't want to wheel this out yet, but it's the biggy.